Freitag, September 09, 2011

Parsing the President...

Not quote sure if this deserves the notion of a fisking, but it definitely needs to be parsed...

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Members of Congress, and fellow Americans:

Tonight we meet at an urgent time for our country.  We continue to face an economic crisis that has left millions of our neighbors jobless, and a political crisis that has made things worse.  

In other words, the recession wasn't ended by the first stimulus package: why would anyone really think, at this point, that throwing more money at the problem is going to make things better? The best I can think of is "Oops, we spent the money on making sure that our campaign contributors - finance and lawyers - didn't get hurt when their schemes backfired. Guess we gotta spend money on the riff-raff after all..."

This past week, reporters have been asking "What will this speech mean for the President?  What will it mean for Congress?  How will it affect their polls, and the next election?"

If this is the case, then reporters - outside of perhaps a few whose task actually is covering this sort of narcissistic rhetorical questioning - are idiots. But I repeat myself...

But the millions of Americans who are watching right now:  they don't care about politics.  They have real life concerns.  Many have spent months looking for work.  Others are doing their best just to scrape by – giving up nights out with the family to save on gas or make the mortgage; postponing retirement to send a kid to college. 

In other words, making economic choices because their life style is in excess of their incomes: duh. Everyone would love to have unlimited money and simply do what they feel like doing, rather than making basic budgeting choices. The surprising thing is that this is considered somehow a burden: everyone has to make economic choices about what to do with their money.
These men and women grew up with faith in an America where hard work and responsibility paid off.   They believed in a country where everyone gets a fair shake and does their fair share – where if you stepped up, did your job, and were loyal to your company, that loyalty would be rewarded with a decent salary and good benefits; maybe a raise once in awhile.  If you did the right thing, you could make it in America.  
Ahhhh. Now we see it a tad more clearly: setting up a never-existent straw man to knock down. Hard work and responsibility always pay off, but not in a life-time job. We are not Japan. The qualifiers here - "decent" and "good" - underscore this: no one gets paid what they think they should be paid, and we all want freebies in terms of benefits. But a decent salary in the eyes of the employer is not what the employee thinks he should be getting. This is the classic working-class story, and there is nothing new here at all. It's not so much that the salaries aren't decent - they are, largely - but rather that expectations have grown so immensely. If you think you can own a house, drive two cars, send your kids to college and save for retirement on a working-class salary, then either you've got a union official's job or you are living back in the 1950s and 1960s when the US had no meaningful competition, where the Big Three sold every car they could make without a problem and where property and building costs were low.

If those are the expectations driving the American dream, then everyone is going to be disappointed. We don't live in that world, and haven't for decades.

But for decades now, Americans have watched that compact erode.  They have seen the deck too often stacked against them.  And they know that Washington hasn't always put their interests first. 

Duh. Triple duh. The American Dream isn't about material things and how a common laborer can have them. Good lord, that's an extraordinarily naive idea of the American Dream, one that is heavily influenced by a rather antiquated view of the relationship between labor and capital. The American dream isn't that: the American dream is even simper than that: it is the ability for you to do whatever it is you damn well please and facing both the consequences and the benefits. Want to be a transsexual school teacher? Go ahead and give it a try: no one is going to say from the get-go that you can't do it. Want to open a family restaurant and create your own little business empire? No one is going to stop you, saying that you come from the wrong neighborhood or the wrong part of society. Want to work three jobs in order to buy a house when you don't have the qualifications to earn better money? No one stops you from those decisions. Want to home-school your kids and believe in whatever you want to? No one stops you from doing that, setting up your own church or giving your kids the education that you think they need.

Other countries have systems that do that. Other countries regiment their people in ways that you can't imagine, cutting entire swaths of society off from education, from entrepeneurship, requiring a state religion and strict obedience to their tenets. Other countries won't let you work certain jobs without going through onerous apprenticeships, regardless of how good you are at doing what you do. Other countries won't give you the chance to study because you belong to the wrong caste.

That is the American Dream. Two cars in the garage and a chicken in every pot are the consequences of that, but are in and of themselves not the American Dream.

Further, it's not something given to you: you have to go out and do it. I've got news for y'all: the deck is always stacked against you. You've got competitors and those who want your piece of the pie. It's up to you to stop them taking it and beat them at their own game. But it has to be done, not whined about.
The people of this country work hard to meet their responsibilities.  The question tonight is whether we'll meet ours.  The question is whether, in the face of an ongoing national crisis, we can stop the political circus and actually do something to help the economy; whether we can restore some of the fairness and security that has defined this nation since our beginning.    

First and foremost: the dichotomy between the people and the politicians. The people work hard to meet their responsibilities, but politicians haven't met theirs. Fair enough: that's a given. But the question then arises about which politicians have been meeting their responsibilities: those that increase debt and keep doing the same damn thing when it repeatedly fails are the irresponsible ones. Those that pass bills that no one has the chance to read are the irresponsible ones, deeply so.

But stopping the political circus? This is the man, the party that created the circus. They can stop it in three shakes of a charmed quark by telling their operatives to stop the rhetoric of hate and class warfare. He and the Democrats created the political circus of passing bills without debate; he and the Democrats created the political circus of secrecy and deceit about what was in those bills; he and the Democrats created the political circus of publicly trying to humiliate and drown out the loyal opposition when they tried to talk (Michigan, here's looking at you); he and the Democrats keep political clowns in the media supported and has even elected some to office.

Fairness and security as the defining force of this nation since its beginning? Far from the truth: by demanding our freedom and independence, we chose the path of insecurity and unfairness, the insecurity and unfairness of a free people unleashed upon the world. Making fairness and security the cornerstones of what defines the US is to deny the fundamental nature of American history. Fairness in history would have meant compensating Loyalists for losing their war to remain part of Great Britain; fairness during the Civil War would have meant respecting those who supported slavery because all viewpoints are equally valid; fairness would have meant not settling the West because here were Indians there first. Security would have meant never choosing to send warships to the Barbary Pirates; security would have meant paying tribute and avoiding conflicts; security would mean acquiescing to tyrants and dictators in order to buy the peace of being a subject people. Economic security would mean protecting buggy manufacturers against the automobile; economic security would mean protectionism and losing the benefits of world trade; economic security would mean preventing new technologies from disrupting markets and processes.

It is also the path to stagnation and irrelevance.
Those of us here tonight can't solve all of our nation's woes.  Ultimately, our recovery will be driven not by Washington, but by our businesses and our workers.  But we can help.  We can make a difference.   There are steps we can take right now to improve people's lives. 

Oh Dear. While professing the inability to wave his magic wand and make everything better - a pony in every backyard - the insistence that the government is here to help you. Those words should inspire ridicule and rejection, as we know that they are the words that mean the government is here to buy political support and screw everything up except for its political supporters.

I am sending this Congress a plan that you should pass right away.  It's called the American Jobs Act.  There should be nothing controversial about this piece of legislation.  Everything in here is the kind of proposal that's been supported by both Democrats and Republicans – including many who sit here tonight.  And everything in this bill will be paid for.  Everything.  
In other words, don't bother reading this and thinking whether things could be done better. President Obama is telling you what to think, his version of reality. He is saying, in effect, that he knows better.

Oy. He's right in one way: there should be nothing controversial here. The problem is that he refuses to think that any reasonable person could be in any way opposed to what he wants to do and that we should accept this without thinking or debating it.

And of course this bill will be paid for. The taxpayers will be paying for it. He is trying to make the case that for every dollar spent, somewhere a dollar will be saved. And the reason that anyone should believe him is?

The purpose of the American Jobs Act is simple:  to put more people back to work and more money in the pockets of those who are working.  It will create more jobs for construction workers, more jobs for teachers, more jobs for veterans, and more jobs for the long-term unemployed.  It will provide a tax break for companies who hire new workers, and it will cut payroll taxes in half for every working American and every small business.  It will provide a jolt to an economy that has stalled, and give companies confidence that if they invest and hire, there will be customers for their products and services.  You should pass this jobs plan right away.  
The purpose of the American Jobs Act is simple: it is to distort the US labor market to ensure that the economy is not the reason the President is not re-elected. It will create more boondoggles for his greatest contributors, financial folks and lawyers. It might create a few jobs along the way, but not because demand is up, but rather because we'll spend lots of money to get some people working.

Payroll taxes are not the reason that employers aren't hiring. The jolt to the economy is the jolt of realizing that the last blood is being drained away. Oh, and here's news for the President and his outstanding team of economic advisors: companies hire and invest not because they think it will generate customers for their products and services, but because the demand is already there and is not being satisfied.

The only reason for passing this jobs plan right away is that if you take a close look at it, you'll find that there is lots of smoke and very, very little fire.

Everyone here knows that small businesses are where most new jobs begin.  And you know that while corporate profits have come roaring back, smaller companies haven't.  So for everyone who speaks so passionately about making life easier for "job creators," this plan is for you.  
No, it's not. To repeat: tax cuts on the price of labor won't influence hiring, especially for small businesses. It might appear to do so in academic theories, but in the real world? It's apparent that President Obama and his select and expert team of economic adivsors know very little about small business hiring practices. Small businesses don't hire folks because they think demand might show up when they do so: they hire because they have so much business that they can't afford not to.

At least successful ones do. Those that were to behave like President Obama thinks they should be doing would, generally, simply run out money more quickly.

Pass this jobs bill, and starting tomorrow, small businesses will get a tax cut if they hire new workers or raise workers' wages.  Pass this jobs bill, and all small business owners will also see their payroll taxes cut in half next year.  If you have 50 employees making an average salary, that's an $80,000 tax cut.  And all businesses will be able to continue writing off the investments they make in 2012. 

Hmmm: in other words, pass this bill and nothing will happen. Small businesses are not going to be hiring when demand isn't there, nor are they going to raise wages when these aren't justified by the market. Pass this bill and you will improve the profits of small businesses.

Increased hiring as a result? Nope.
It's not just Democrats who have supported this kind of proposal.  Fifty House Republicans have proposed the same payroll tax cut that's in this plan.  You should pass it right away.  
Oy. Again, let's not talk about it, just give me my way right now.

Pass this jobs bill, and we can put people to work rebuilding America.  Everyone here knows that we have badly decaying roads and bridges all over this country.  Our highways are clogged with traffic.  Our skies are the most congested in the world.  
Of course, the fact that the EPA and the NIMBY industry stops new construction of roads and makes it impossible to expand existing roads to handle traffic isn't an issue at all.

This is inexcusable.  Building a world-class transportation system is part of what made us an economic superpower.  And now we're going to sit back and watch China build newer airports and faster railroads?  At a time when millions of unemployed construction workers could build them right here in America?  
Oy. Now we're in a bragging rights competition with a country that remains, largely, filled with peasants and no infrastructure? Faster railroads, Mr. President, would mean declaring eminent domain on tens of thousands of houses and businesses in the Eastern Corridor, since building high-speed rail means traveling in straight lines, not curves from community to community.

There is merit to the idea of putting construction workers back to work, I will give him that. The problem of the construction industry, however, is that the overhang in both private and commercial buildings is going to take decades to work their way out of the system: putting them to work (and let's ignore the fact that the work is different and a carpenter is going to have a hard time building roadbeds) is a good idea, but only papers over the fundamental screwing-up of the construction industry.

There are private construction companies all across America just waiting to get to work.  There's a bridge that needs repair between Ohio and Kentucky that's on one of the busiest trucking routes in North America.  A public transit project in Houston that will help clear up one of the worst areas of traffic in the country.  And there are schools throughout this country that desperately need renovating.  How can we expect our kids to do their best in places that are literally falling apart?  This is America.  Every child deserves a great school – and we can give it to them, if we act now.  

Oy. Now we get to the schools. Sure, every child deserves a great school and an outstanding education, The only problem is that the Federal Government acts against that, not for it.

The American Jobs Act will repair and modernize at least 35,000 schools.  It will put people to work right now fixing roofs and windows; installing science labs and high-speed internet in classrooms all across this country.  It will rehabilitate homes and businesses in communities hit hardest by foreclosures.  It will jumpstart thousands of transportation projects across the country.  And to make sure the money is properly spent and for good purposes, we're building on reforms we've already put in place.  No more earmarks.  No more boondoggles.  No more bridges to nowhere.  We're cutting the red tape that prevents some of these projects from getting started as quickly as possible.  And we'll set up an independent fund to attract private dollars and issue loans based on two criteria:  how badly a construction project is needed and how much good it would do for the economy.  
Reality check: by spending so much on teacher salaries and benefits, including retirement plans, school systems have been cutting back on fixing roofs and windows. He is proposing increased spending to solve a symptom that is the result of poor choices dictated by political pressuring and influence.

And to believe that there will be no boondoggles and earmarks is absurd in and of itself. The Democratic party lives on boondoggles and earmarks, and that is not about to change. Dream on.

This idea came from a bill written by a Texas Republican and a Massachusetts Democrat.  The idea for a big boost in construction is supported by America's largest business organization and America's largest labor organization.  It's the kind of proposal that's been supported in the past by Democrats and Republicans alike.  You should pass it right away.  
Again, do as I tell you. Nothing to discuss, nothing to debate, do as I say.

Pass this jobs bill, and thousands of teachers in every state will go back to work.  These are the men and women charged with preparing our children for a world where the competition has never been tougher.  But while they're adding teachers in places like South Korea, we're laying them off in droves.  It's unfair to our kids.  It undermines their future and ours.  And it has to stop.  Pass this jobs bill, and put our teachers back in the classroom where they belong.  
It's unfair to out kids to inflict the US educational system upon them. Education in the US is about fairness and feeling good about yourself, it's about not being ambitious, it's about sports and social activities. The reason that foreign competition is handing us our hat is that their kids are being taught intellectual skills like math and science, with an emphasis on understanding what these are good for, and delegates fairness and feeling good about yourself to the family and sports and social activities to leisure time. The emphasis in US schools is absurd for what the US labor market needs. With unions running schools, all you are doing is putting the incompetent back to "work" and inflicting more nonsense on the kids than ever before.

Pass this jobs bill, and companies will get extra tax credits if they hire America's veterans.  We ask these men and women to leave their careers, leave their families, and risk their lives to fight for our country.  The last thing they should have to do is fight for a job when they come home.  
I can agree with this one: however, it should never have been an issue to begin with, underscoring the basic hostility that the Democratic party has toward the military. I thought the President said, effectively, that only the stupid went into the military...

Pass this bill, and hundreds of thousands of disadvantaged young people will have the hope and dignity of a summer job next year.  And their parents, low-income Americans who desperately want to work, will have more ladders out of poverty.    
Play on the heartstrings of helping the poor. We have been fighting a war on poverty almost all of my life, and poverty keeps on winning.

Pass this jobs bill, and companies will get a $4,000 tax credit if they hire anyone who has spent more than six months looking for a job.  We have to do more to help the long-term unemployed in their search for work.  This jobs plan builds on a program in Georgia that several Republican leaders have highlighted, where people who collect unemployment insurance participate in temporary work as a way to build their skills while they look for a permanent job.  The plan also extends unemployment insurance for another year.  If the millions of unemployed Americans stopped getting this insurance, and stopped using that money for basic necessities, it would be a devastating blow to this economy.  Democrats and Republicans in this Chamber have supported unemployment insurance plenty of times in the past.  At this time of prolonged hardship, you should pass it again – right away.  
Again the obsession of passing this right away, no debate, no discussion. And creating a class of permanent unemployed doesn't mean you should keep feeding the monster: get them back to work instead. A $4k tax credit won't increase hiring: it might, at best, shift existing hiring from recently unemployed to long-term unemployed. Again, tax credits or tax cuts won't generate demand.

Pass this jobs bill, and the typical working family will get a fifteen hundred dollar tax cut next year.  Fifteen hundred dollars that would have been taken out of your paycheck will go right into your pocket.  This expands on the tax cut that Democrats and Republicans already passed for this year.  If we allow that tax cut to expire – if we refuse to act – middle-class families will get hit with a tax increase at the worst possible time.  We cannot let that happen.  I know some of you have sworn oaths to never raise any taxes on anyone for as long as you live.  Now is not the time to carve out an exception and raise middle-class taxes, which is why you should pass this bill right away.     

The mantra of "pass this bill right away" is impossible to miss.

For the first time, we see the President actually admitting that allowing a tax cut to expire means that taxes will increase. Duh for the most, but this is a point which Democrats have tried to deny for ages.
This is the American Jobs Act.  It will lead to new jobs for construction workers, teachers, veterans, first responders, young people and the long-term unemployed.  It will provide tax credits to companies that hire new workers, tax relief for small business owners, and tax cuts for the middle-class. And here's the other thing I want the American people to know:  the American Jobs Act will not add to the deficit.  It will be paid for.  And here's how:
The agreement we passed in July will cut government spending by about $1 trillion over the next ten years.  It also charges this Congress to come up with an additional $1.5 trillion in savings by Christmas.  Tonight, I'm asking you to increase that amount so that it covers the full cost of the American Jobs Act.  And a week from Monday, I'll be releasing a more ambitious deficit plan – a plan that will not only cover the cost of this jobs bill, but stabilize our debt in the long run.  
In other words, it will be paid for in the sense of somebody has to pay for it. What he is not saying is that the deficit plans don't actually cut the deficit, but rather only slows the growth. That is a certain and clear way to bankruptcy.

This approach is basically the one I've been advocating for months.  In addition to the trillion dollars of spending cuts I've already signed into law, it's a balanced plan that would reduce the deficit by making additional spending cuts; by making modest adjustments to health care programs like Medicare and Medicaid; and by reforming our tax code in a way that asks the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations to pay their fair share.  What's more, the spending cuts wouldn't happen so abruptly that they'd be a drag on our economy, or prevent us from helping small business and middle-class families get back on their feet right away.   
Again, fairness: the wealthy and big corporations already pay the lion's share of the tax bill.

Now, I realize there are some in my party who don't think we should make any changes at all to Medicare and Medicaid, and I understand their concerns.  But here's the truth.  Millions of Americans rely on Medicare in their retirement.  And millions more will do so in the future.  They pay for this benefit during their working years.  They earn it.  But with an aging population and rising health care costs, we are spending too fast to sustain the program.  And if we don't gradually reform the system while protecting current beneficiaries, it won't be there when future retirees need it.  We have to reform Medicare to strengthen it.  

Halleluiah! Recognition of the fundamental problem of Medicare and Social Security. But in the same breath, he perpetuates the lie that you have "earned" these welfare programs by paying in. That's not been the case from day one.
I'm also well aware that there are many Republicans who don't believe we should raise taxes on those who are most fortunate and can
best afford it.  But here is what every American knows.  While most people in this country struggle to make ends meet, a few of the most affluent citizens and corporations enjoy tax breaks and loopholes that nobody else gets.  Right now, Warren Buffet pays a lower tax rate than his secretary – an outrage he has asked us to fix.  We need a tax code where everyone gets a fair shake, and everybody pays their fair share.  And I believe the vast majority of wealthy Americans and CEOs are willing to do just that, if it helps the economy grow and gets our fiscal house in order.    

Warren Buffet may pay a lower tax rate than his secretary, but that would be on his overall income, not on his salary. Fear any government that wants to create a "fair" tax rate: there is no such thing. It's like being slightly pregnant. Taxes are and always will be unfair: trying to make them fair creates unfairness in one way or another. Doomed to failure.

I'll also offer ideas to reform a corporate tax code that stands as a monument to special interest influence in Washington.  By eliminating pages of loopholes and deductions, we can lower one of the highest corporate tax rates in the world.  Our tax code shouldn't give an advantage to companies that can afford the best-connected lobbyists.  It should give an advantage to companies that invest and create jobs here in America.   
Believe that, and I have a bridge in New York for sale, for you a special price...

So we can reduce this deficit, pay down our debt, and pay for this jobs plan in the process.  But in order to do this, we have to decide what our priorities are.  We have to ask ourselves, "What's the best way to grow the economy and create jobs?"

Get out of trying to make markets "fair" and let the markets determine the best allocation of scarce resources. The President and his party won't like the results, but then again, the President and his party don't much like markets to begin with.
Should we keep tax loopholes for oil companies?  Or should we use that money to give small business owners a tax credit when they hire new workers?  Because we can't afford to do both.  Should we keep tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires?  Or should we put teachers back to work so our kids can graduate ready for college and good jobs?  Right now, we can't afford to do both.  

Oh. My. Goodness. Recognition of limited resources and the need to make economic, rather than political decisions?
This isn't political grandstanding.  This isn't class warfare.  This is simple math.  These are real choices that we have to make.  And I'm pretty sure I know what most Americans would choose.  It's not even close.  And it's time for us to do what's right for our future.      
A tad late to realize that the Cold Equations apply to everyone.
The American Jobs Act answers the urgent need to create jobs right away.  But we can't stop there.  As I've argued since I ran for this office, we have to look beyond the immediate crisis and start building an economy that lasts into the future – an economy that creates good, middle-class jobs that pay well and offer security.  We now live in a world where technology has made it possible for companies to take their business anywhere.  If we want them to start here and stay here and hire here, we have to be able to out-build, out-educate, and out-innovate every other country on Earth.   
Oy. Here is where things start to go downhill quickly. We have always lived in a world where companies can take their business anywhere: globalization is nothing new (even at the time of Christ there was trade and the movement of production elsewhere).

This task, of making America more competitive for the long haul, is a job for all of us.  For government and for private companies.  For states and for local communities – and for every American citizen.  All of us will have to up our game.  All of us will have to change the way we do business.  
Oh dear. We're from the government and we're here to help you. Fathers, hide your daughters; mothers, hide your sons.

My administration can and will take some steps to improve our competitiveness on our own.  For example, if you're a small business owner who has a contract with the federal government, we're going to make sure you get paid a lot faster than you do now.  We're also planning to cut away the red tape that prevents too many rapidly-growing start-up companies from raising capital and going public.  And to help responsible homeowners, we're going to work with Federal housing agencies to help more people refinance their mortgages at interest rates that are now near 4% -- a step that can put more than $2,000 a year in a family's pocket, and give a lift to an economy still burdened by the drop in housing prices.  
In other words, we promise not to screw you over so badly and we promise to continue to screw around with the housing market. That worked so well over the last 40 years that we want to fix all the problems we created by meddling in the market by meddling further in the market. This time, it's different...oy!

Other steps will require Congressional action.  Today you passed reform that will speed up the outdated patent process, so that entrepreneurs can turn a new idea into a new business as quickly as possible. That's the kind of action we need.  Now it's time to clear the way for a series of trade agreements that would make it easier for American companies to sell their products in Panama, Colombia, and South Korea – while also helping the workers whose jobs have been affected by global competition.  If Americans can buy Kias and Hyundais, I want to see folks in South Korea driving Fords and Chevys and Chryslers.  I want to see more products sold around the world stamped with three proud words: "Made in America."  
Earth to Obama and Government Motors: build products that people actually want. That is the greatest problem with products "Made in America".

And on all of our efforts to strengthen competitiveness, we need to look for ways to work side-by-side with America's businesses.  That's why I've brought together a Jobs Council of leaders from different industries who are developing a wide range of new ideas to help companies grow and create jobs.  
A committee is going to help here? Seriously? I think we see the community organizer background of the President clearly here.

Already, we've mobilized business leaders to train 10,000 American engineers a year, by providing company internships and training.  Other businesses are covering tuition for workers who learn new skills at community colleges.  And we're going to make sure the next generation of manufacturing takes root not in China or Europe, but right here, in the United States of America.  If we provide the right incentives and support – and if we make sure our trading partners play by the rules – we can be the ones to build everything from fuel-efficient cars to advanced biofuels to semiconductors that are sold all over the world.  That's how America can be number one again.  That's how America will be number one again.      
Wishful thinking. Now if we all think positive thoughts, everything will be fine...

Now, I realize that some of you have a different theory on how to grow the economy.  Some of you sincerely believe that the only solution to our economic challenges is to simply cut most government spending and eliminate most government regulations.  
Yep. First realistic thing said, recognizing reality.

Well, I agree that we can't afford wasteful spending, and I will continue to work with Congress to get rid of it.  And I agree that there are some rules and regulations that put an unnecessary burden on businesses at a time when they can least afford it.  That's why I ordered a review of all government regulations.  So far, we've identified over 500 reforms, which will save billions of dollars over the next few years.  We should have no more regulation than the health, safety, and security of the American people require.  Every rule should meet that common sense test. 

Some? Hah! How about making regulations have an expiration date that ensure that nonsense isn't perpetuated?
But what we can't do – what I won't do – is let this economic crisis be used as an excuse to wipe out the basic protections that Americans have counted on for decades.  I reject the idea that we need to ask people to choose between their jobs and their safety.  I reject the argument that says for the economy to grow, we have to roll back protections that ban hidden fees by credit card companies, or rules that keep our kids from being exposed to mercury, or laws that prevent the health insurance industry from shortchanging patients.  I reject the idea that we have to strip away collective bargaining rights to compete in a global economy.  We shouldn't be in a race to the bottom, where we try to offer the cheapest labor and the worst pollution standards.  America should be in a race to the top.  And I believe that's a race we can win.   
Straw man.

In fact, this larger notion that the only thing we can do to restore prosperity is just dismantle government, refund everyone's money, let everyone write their own rules, and tell everyone they're on their own – that's not who we are.  That's not the story of America.    
Well, it would have been a decent start. But first after we disenfranchise those who drove subprimes and CDOs.

Yes, we are rugged individualists.  Yes, we are strong and self-reliant.  And it has been the drive and initiative of our workers and entrepreneurs that has made this economy the engine and envy of the world.

Ummmmm, yes. Your point being?
But there has always been another thread running throughout our history – a belief that we are all connected; and that there are some things we can only do together, as a nation.
Ummmmm, yes. Your point being?

We all remember Abraham Lincoln as the leader who saved our Union.  But in the middle of a Civil War, he was also a leader who looked to the future – a Republican president who mobilized government to build the transcontinental railroad; launch the National Academy of Sciences; and set up the first land grant colleges.  And leaders of both parties have followed the example he set.  
Ummmmm, yes. Your point being?

Ask yourselves – where would we be right now if the people who sat here before us decided not to build our highways and our bridges; our dams and our airports?  What would this country be like if we had chosen not to spend money on public high schools, or research universities, or community colleges?  Millions of returning heroes, including my grandfather, had the opportunity to go to school because of the GI Bill.  Where would we be if they hadn't had that chance?  
Ummmmm, yes. Your point being?

How many jobs would it have cost us if past Congresses decided not to support the basic research that led to the Internet and the computer chip?  What kind of country would this be if this Chamber had voted down Social Security or Medicare just because it violated some rigid idea about what government could or could not do?  How many Americans would have suffered as a result? 

Ummmmm, yes. Your point being?

No single individual built America on their own.  We built it together.  We have been, and always will be, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all; a nation with responsibilities to ourselves and with responsibilities to one another.   Members of Congress, it is time for us to meet our responsibilities. 

Ummmmm, yes. Your point being?
Every proposal I've laid out tonight is the kind that's been supported by Democrats and Republicans in the past.  Every proposal I've laid out tonight will be paid for.  And every proposal is designed to meet the urgent needs of our people and our communities.  
That's according to President Obama. I dare say that there's other viewpoints on that, but as we've seen, let's pass this now before there is discussion...

I know there's been a lot of skepticism about whether the politics of the moment will allow us to pass this jobs plan – or any jobs plan.  Already, we're seeing the same old press releases and tweets flying back and forth.  Already, the media has proclaimed that it's impossible to bridge our differences.  And maybe some of you have decided that those differences are so great that we can only resolve them at the ballot box.   
Well, it is the place to do that.

But know this:  the next election is fourteen months away.  And the people who sent us here – the people who hired us to work for them – they don't have the luxury of waiting fourteen months.  Some of them are living week to week; paycheck to paycheck; even day to day.  They need help, and they need it now. 

In other words, President Obama is setting the time table. This needs to be passed today so that he has a chance of being re-elected...
I don't pretend that this plan will solve all our problems.  It shouldn't be, nor will it be, the last plan of action we propose.  What's guided us from the start of this crisis hasn't been the search for a silver bullet.  It's been a commitment to stay at it – to be persistent – to keep trying every new idea that works, and listen to every good proposal, no matter which party comes up with it. 

As if that were the case: the President actively dis-listens to anyone not within his limited circle of advisors.
Regardless of the arguments we've had in the past, regardless of the arguments we'll have in the future, this plan is the right thing to do right now.  You should pass it.  And I intend to take that message to every corner of this country.  I also ask every American who agrees to lift your voice and tell the people who are gathered here tonight that you want action now.  Tell Washington that doing nothing is not an option.  Remind us that if we act as one nation, and one people, we have it within our power to meet this challenge.
In other words, let's not talk about how irresponsible the President and his party has been. Do as I tell you, and if you don't, I will tell everyone what a spoil-sport you are being.

President Kennedy once said, "Our problems are man-made – therefore they can be solved by man.  And man can be as big as he wants."

Leaving those who created the problem in charge of the problem is nonsense.
These are difficult years for our country.  But we are Americans.  We are tougher than the times that we live in, and we are bigger than our politics have been.  So let's meet the moment.  Let's get to work, and show the world once again why the United States of America remains the greatest nation on Earth.  Thank you, God bless you, and may God bless the United States of America.

Oy. This is a speech that bordered on bullying, of talking down to the Republicans, a fine speech for a neighborhood organizer.

But as a speech to the people of the United States, to the Congress? A speech designed to generate support and cross bridges?

The only bridges here are those falling apart and desperately in need of repair. The President seems intent on burning them by bullying and threatening, rather than real agreement and working towards making things better.

There is no real plan here. Markets are not being freed and deregulated. Instead, in the name of fairness and security, they are kept under control. That means when the markets finally break free of these constraints, the effect will be vastly worse than the effects of an unconstrained market.

I've had enough of this now.

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